Scenes from (L-R) Publication Dreams, Cat Individual and Infinity Pool.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture. Photos courtesy of Sundance Institute
These past couple of years have been challenging for Park City, the little ski location, population 8,457, that plays host to the Sundance Film Festival each year. Initially, the January 2020 model of the celebration was written in The Hollywood Reporter as the “very first petri meal” of COVID-19 in America, as a growing number of attendees presumed after the reality that what they thought was Festival Flu may have been something more consequential. Then, the resorts had to momentarily close down, the celebration had to cancel its in-person events 2 years in a row, and worst of all, Jen Shah transferred to town (and later on, out of it). But, like a Genuine Housewife of Salt Lake City on a bunny slope adjusting their type from french fries to pizza … things are finally turning around.
Sundance is completely back in Park City for the very first time in three years, and the programming slate has lots of fittingly buzzy fare. There’s Nicholas Braun in the film adjustment of Cat Person, maybe the most intriguing viral narrative because Bartleby the freaking Scrivener. There are documentaries about a diverse variety of huge names like Michael J. Fox, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Judy Blume. There are brand-new films from appreciated filmmakers like Nicole Holofcenter and Brandon Cronenberg. There’s Eileen, a film which will address the terrifying question: What if Ottessa Moshfegh and Anne Hathaway combined their powers? Here is a list of the films we are thrilled to see, either from home (the celebration is still partially virtual) or the warm interior of a Utahan theater.
Cory Finley made a splash at Sundance 2017 with his launching Thoroughbreds, a black funny starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke as a pair of disaffected high schoolers and after that went on to direct Hugh Jackman in a career-best efficiency in Bad Education in 2019. The bar for his third movie has been set high, but the facility of Landscape With Undetectable Hand is plenty intriguing. Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers play teens living in a future in which the Earth has been colonized by an advanced alien species who’ve automated everything, putting most of the world out of work. In need of money, the kids livestream their budding love to the extraterrestrials, who apparently take pleasure in forming parasocial relationships as much as any human. Tiffany Haddish, William Jackson Harper, and Michael Gandolfini are likewise in the cast.
Greta Lee is a scene-stealer who’s been on the cusp of stardom forever, so here’s hoping this romantic drama from playwright turned debut writer-director Celine Tune leads Lee to more of the plum leading function she should have. Lee and Teo Yoo play youth sweethearts who are pulled apart when Lee’s household emigrates from Seoul to Canada. Over a decade later on, the two reconnect online, and a dozen years after that, the pair finally meet up for a couple of days in New york city, causing a plaintive love story of sorts that spans half their lives and, if the title is any indication, leads them both to question might-have-beens.
Nida Manzoor’s Muslim punk-rock funny We Are Girl Parts is raucous, unexpected, and delightful, and her first film sounds equally ready to bust categories. Priya Kansara stars as a trainee and aspiring stunt performer who ends up being convinced she needs to conserve her huge sister from her own hastily revealed wedding strategies. Polite Society is apparently a mix break-in movie, martial-arts extravaganza, and diasporic social satire, which sounds like a fantastic mix.
Luke Lorentzen’s last documentary, 2019’s Midnight Family, fell someplace between a gritty thriller and a domestic drama, following a household running a private ambulance service that raced through the streets of Mexico City to intercept emergency calls and transport individuals to medical facilities– for a cost. His new doc handle a various angle on health care by fixating a health center chaplain in training who starts her yearlong residency at Mount Sinai Health Center in New York in 2020 as the pandemic overwhelms the city.
One of Sundance’23’s buzziest acquisitions titles– if not also, perhaps, one of its Sundanceiest– this psycho-romantic potboiler from Susanna Fogel was adjusted from Kristen Roupenian’s New Yorker short story of the very same name, among the magazine’s most commonly check out short articles to date, which appeared to saturate a certain quadrant of chattering-class culture upon its 2017 publication. CODA star Emilia Jones represents Margot, an university student operating at an “artsy” cinema who senses romantic potential in the mystical, 30-something cinéaste Robert (Succession’s erstwhile Cousin Greg, Nicholas Braun). However as their destination ebbs and flows, flirtation gives way to existential fear, exposing severe truths about gender divides, sexual degradation and power characteristics in contemporary dating.
Rocketing from obscurity at age 12 as the object of fetishization in director Louis Malle’s Pretty Child, Brooke Shields ended up being the early ’80s face of teensploitation, starring in Unlimited Love and Blue Lagoon. Documentarian Lana Wilson (responsible for the 2020 Taylor Swift doc Miss Americana and the Emmy-winning After Tiller) chronicles Shields’s career odyssey: growing up in public “specified by a sexuality that she could neither claim nor comprehend” while tossing into stark relief Hollywood’s poisonous culture of misogyny.
Fresh Off the Boat– Constantly Be My Maybe co-lead Randall Park makes his directorial launching with this romantic dramedy scripted by comics phenom Adrian Tomine from his well-known graphic novel of the same name– not a career no-brainer thinking about how Tomine rejected Hollywood’s adaption overtures for almost a decade. Justin H. Min (After Yang, The Umbrella Academy) plays Ben, a tragicomic movie-theater supervisor and struggling filmmaker with a politically active sweetheart called Miko and a roaming eye for unavailable white ladies. When Miko moves away, nevertheless, Ben is unexpectedly free to pursue his idealized “type”– to naturally disastrous results. Less naturally, the movie attempts to sidestep cliché, dealing with Asian American identity through a character who actively reduces his “otherness.”
In 1955, Richard”Little Richard” Penniman awopbopaloomopalopbombom-ed his method onto the pop charts– and into American musical vernacular– with his veiled paean “Tutti Frutti.” In this function documentary, Lisa Cortés, the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning co-director of All In: The Defend Democracy, unpacks the vocalist’s seeming contradictions: as a flamboyant gay man passing as straight, an unabashed drug abuser who ascended the pulpit as a preacher, as a force-of-nature firebrand and all-around stunning showman who browsed the treacherous shoals of his race and sexuality at a time of extreme segregation to wipe out cultural limits.
Each of Nicole Holofcener’s seven movies feels like real life, but funnier and with much better lighting. Nobody writes and directs lived-in, flawed-but-lovable characters more convincingly– characters who deal with quotidian things like relationships failing in the face of brand-new relationships (Walking and Talking), class clashes (Good friends With Cash), and later-in-life love affairs (Enough Said) in manner ins which feel fresh and uncomfortably familiar. For her 4th Sundance premiere, Holofcener takes a look at marriage and minor (or is it?) betrayal: Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a New York author, Beth, who’s been sharing drafts of her new book with her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies). When she overhears him admitting to another person that he does not in fact like the book, marital chaos occurs.
Author Ottessa Moshfegh, hailed as the”high priestess of dirt,” is well-practiced in making her readers squirm with pain. Her 2015 launching novel, Eileen, is classic Moshfegh, perverse and flecked with twisted absurdity. The novel follows the titular young woman, who’s exceptionally disrupted and living in squalor with her alcoholic daddy in 1960s Boston while working at a prison for teenage kids. Eileen becomes unexpectedly consumed with her new, stunning co-worker, and the two become pals prior to they find themselves involved in a particularly fucked-up criminal offense. What’s remarkable about the movie variation is that it’s fairly mainstream, starring Thomasin McKenzie as Eileen and Anne Hathaway as the incandescent Rebecca Saint John. William Oldroyd (Woman Macbeth) directs from a script adapted by Moshfegh and her other half, Luke Goebel, who likewise co-wrote the recent Causeway.
One of the very best parts of Sundance is its NEXT category, which premieres films from completely fresh talent. Kokomo City is the launching function of D. Smith, a two-time Grammy-nominated songwriter-producer who was also the very first trans lady ever cast on a primetime reality television program (Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta). The black-and-white doc follows four Black transgender sex employees as they live their lives in New York and Georgia, reviewing desire, taboo, gender, and sex. A press agent described it as “absolutely NSFW, unapologetic, and genuine,” which are the sorts of qualities we’re all starved for in Marvel-ified motion picture market.
Though arguably every year since 1969 has been the Year of Judy Blume for its accompanying subset of teenage ladies, 2023 truly is forming up to be an especially Judy Blume– y year. In April, almost half a century after its release, the very first on-screen adjustment of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? will hit theaters; at Sundance, a documentary about Blume’s own maturing will premiere, most likely to wrenching, classic sobs. Directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok “trace Blume’s journey from fearful, imaginative kid to storytelling leader who elevated the physical and psychological lives of kids and teens, to prohibited author who continues to resist versus censorship today” in the doc, which likewise includes interviews with authors and artists inspired by Blume and letters from her lifelong fans.
Even by the standards of modern-day warfare, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has actually been among the most extensively recorded and recorded conflicts of our time, that makes it reasonable that we’re likely to get a variety of important documentaries about it. This one, an on-the-ground look at 20 days in the Ukrainian city during the siege and attack in 2022, from journalist and filmmaker Mstyslav Chernov, aims to have the sort of immediacy that can often be sorely lacking in movies about such subjects.
Individual retirement account Sachs is one of modern American independent movie theater’s biggest directors, and his newest has a cast( and property)to die for: A German filmmaker living in Paris (Franz Rogowski, one of the increasing stars of global cinema) falls for a girl (Adele Exarchopoulos), which prompts an untidy separation with his hubby (Ben Whishaw) and a great deal of soul-searching about relationships, family, and jealousy– particularly after the spouse finds a brand-new beau of his own.
The playwright and filmmaker Angus MacLachlan was quickly the toast of Sundance when Junebug(which he composed )broke out in 2005. After that, he composed and directed two excellent, under-the-radar dramas, Goodbye to All That ( 2014) and Abundant Acreage Available ( 2017 ). As an artist, he has a special feel for the way that families come together and fall apart– he gets their rhythms of speech, their unmentioned bitterness, not to mention their heat. His most current is a movie about extramarital relations and intergenerational dispute down South, co-starring David Strathairn and Celia Weston, which sounds quite up the writer-director’s alley.
An extremely devoted Jonathan Majors plays a bodybuilder imagining fame as he battles with the needs of his sport and the turmoil of his feelings. Based upon the description, this seems like Pumping Iron fulfills Joker. Let’s not call it a possible breakout– Majors has currently shown up. But in spite of Oscar-worthy efficiencies in films like Dedication, Da 5 Bloods, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco, he hasn’t quite gotten the awards traction he so highly should have. Elijah Bynum’s drama might be a genuine showcase for among our finest young actors.
Deeply fucked up, drugged up, and self-destructive, impoverished artist Sebastian Silva goes to a gay beach in Mexico and winds up inadvertently saving the life of irrepressibly pleasant influencer Jordan Firstman. Afterward, both grateful and hoping to collaborate on a project with Silva, Firstman sets out to find the director– but finds that he’s vanished. Firstman and Silva (who directed) play themselves– well, variations of themselves. Silva’s films tend to be funnier and more intriguing the weirder they are, and this seems like one of his weirdest ones yet.
Ever since The Last Dance took ahold of the culture, we’ve been inundated with basketball documentaries. This has actually been, by and large, a good idea. But this documentary about Steph Curry, informing his life story while following him through an eventful NBA season, looks to be different. It’s from Peter Nicks, who made the memorable 2017 Oakland policing documentary The Force. That raises our hope that this movie will be more informative than all the shallow profiles we’ve had over the years; Curry is not simply among the greatest basketball players of perpetuity, however also among the more remarkable, with a wholesome public image that has actually seduced sports writers and hot-take artists the world over. A movie that cuts through all that could be really unique.
Brandon Cronenberg has returned from whatever fucked-up ancestral well of motivation that led to his 2020 sci-fi horror favorite Possessor, and this time, he’s going White Lotus mode. Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman play a couple on holiday in the fictional country (sovereign town? small island state?) of Li Tolqa. When they deign to leave their all-encompassing resort, Skarsgård’s character James finds an awful little information that you believe would have made it into the travel brochure: In Li Tolqa, the punishment for all crimes is execution … unless you’re rich, in which case you can style a sort of clone of yourself to pass away in front of you instead. In this body horror likewise starring Mia Goth, let Cronenberg snap you out of your “satirical movies about rich people on private islands getting their just desserts” rut of 2022 with something that will, at the very least, be totally initial.
If John Carney’s gon na do anything, you know he’s gon na be composing and directing a sensitive, uplifting comedy-tinged romance about love and music, usually set in Dublin. After When, Begin Again, and the transcendently fresh Sing Street, Carney’s bringing his most current, Plants and Boy, to Sundance. The motion picture stars Eve Hewson as Plants, a single mother who shares a “brash rapport” with her kid, Max. They find common ground over a used guitar while a love blossoms between Plants and her American online guitar instructor, played by Sundance staple Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We’re calling the Initial Tune election now.
Australian starlet Alice Englert is making her directorial launching with this dark funny about former child-star Lucy (Jennifer Connelly), who goes to a stylish quiet retreat led by an enigmatic cult-of-personality type named Elon (Ben Whishaw). The film centers on Lucy’s harmful, co-dependent relationship with her daughter, and the ways she sublimates and diverts it at the retreat with a “young model-DJ-influencer.” If you do not know Englert from starring opposite Alden Ehrenreich in potential YA franchise Lovely Creatures, or from in 2015’s Starz adjustment of Dangerous Liaisons, you might understand her as the child of director Jane Campion, which makes us believe this takedown of familial relationships and celebrity in the film-TV market will have extra bite.
Singaporean director Anthony Chen(Ilo Ilo) directs his English-language debut in this French, British, and Greek co-production about a previously rich Liberian refugee (Cynthia Erivo) living in hardship on a vacation-destination Greek island. Struggling to make ends fulfill and coping grief, she establishes a relationship with a lonely American tour guide, played by Alia Shawkat. Zainab Jah and Honor Swinton Byrne also star.